According to annual data published today by The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (Eiren), overall box office revenues for 2007 totalled $1.87bn (Y198.44bn), a 2.2% decrease from 2006's $1.91bn (Y202.93bn).

The figure represents earnings on 163.19 million admissions, only a 0.8% drop on the previous year's 164.56m cinemagoers. The discrepancy can be accounted for in a lower average ticket price of $11.43 (Y1,216), the lowest since 1992, versus $11.59 (Y1,233) in 2006. The increased popularity of ticket presales, group discounts and special campaigns has helped drive prices down.

In terms of market share, imports regained the upper hand lost to local product in 2006. Hollywood and other non-Japanese imports grossed $975.69m (Y103.8bn) for a 52.3% share, while local releases earned $889.65m (Y94.65bn) for a 47.7% share, compared to 53.2% in 2006. Earnings for homegrown releases decreased 12.3% while imports showed a 9.3% increase.

A total of 407 Japanese films were released theatrically, versus 403 foreign titles, the second year in a row local films have outnumbered imports since 1987. Industry analysts are concerned that the continuously high number of local productions represents a glut, with overall per screen averages not increasing.

Japan's largest distributor, Toho, was the territory's top earner with $559.94m (Y59.51bn), representing almost a third of the market and the company's best year in its history. 20 of its 29 releases were hits (over Y1bn), including Fuji TV's Hero ($76.61m), the year's number one local film.

Warner Brothers Japan grossed over $216m (Y23bn) as the territory's second biggest earner with hits such as the latest Harry Potter installment and late 2006 release Letters From Iwo Jima.

WB was followed by Sony Pictures Entertainment which had its most successful year ever in Japan with earnings of $152.91m (Y16.26bn).

Japanese major Shochiku ranked fourth with earnings of $147.30m (15.67bn). Late 2006 release Love And Honour ($38.9m) remained the studio's biggest hit. Boy band SMAP member Takuya Kimura starred in both Love And Honor and Hero. Toei had a difficult year with revenues of $80.13m (Y8.52b) only one hit in the top 20.

Disney's Pirates Of The Caribbean: World's End was the most successful film of the year and the only one to break Y10bn, with total earnings of $102.46m (Y10.9bn). The only other hit in 2007 for Disney was Ratatouille ($36.66m).

The screen count in 2007 jumped to 3,221 up from 3,062 in 2006. Screen count has increased year-on-year since 1993 with the current count the highest since 1970. The trend of standalone cinemas being replaced with multiplexes as well as new sites being developed continues in both urban and rural regions. At its peak in 1958, Japan boasted 7,067 sites. Toho operates the largest number of screens at 536.

Overall DVD rentals and sales fell by a similar percentage as theatrical revenues. Rentals decreased by 2.3% to $3.82bn (Y406.9bn) on 763.5 million rentals. Sales dropped 2.6% to $2.34bn (Y249bn).

Japan Top Ten Films 2007 (Eiren)

1. Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End (Disney) $102.46m (10.9bn)

2. Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (WB) $88.36m (Y9.4bn)

3. Spider-Man 3 (Sony) $66.93m (Y7.12bn)

4. Letters From Iwo Jima* (WB) $47.94m (Y5.1bn)

5. Transformers (UIP) $37.69m (4.01bn)

6. Live Free Or Die Hard (Fox) $36.75m (Y3.91bn)

7. Ratatouille (Disney) $36.66m (Y3.9bn)

8. Night At The Museum (Fox) $33.56m (Y3.57bn)

9. Ocean's Thirteen (WB) $30.08m (Y3.2bn)

10. Resident Evil: Extinction** (Sony) $26.79m (Y2.85bn)

Japan Top Ten Local Films 2007

1. Hero (Fuji TV / Toho) $76.61m (Y8.15bn)

2. Pokemon (Toho) $47.19m (Y5.02bn)

3. Always: Sunset On Third Street 2** (NTV / Toho) $42.86m (Y4.56bn)

4. Monkey Magic (Fuji TV / Toho) $41.08m (Y4.37bn)

5. Love and Honour* (Shochiku) $38.63m (Y4.11bn)

6. Sky Of Love (TBS) Toho $36.66m (Y3.9bn)

7. Doraemon (Toho) $33.28m (Y3.54bn)

8. Dororo (TBS / Toho) $32.43m (Y3.45bn)

9. Unfair: The Movie (Fuji TV / Toho) $25.57m (Y2.72bn)

10. Detective Conan (Toho) $23.78m (Y2.53bn)

* Late 2006 release

** Still in current release


Sources: Eiren 2007 data